• you need a license issued by the State of New York (can be NYC or another clerk's office)
• a New York City registered marriage officiant
• at least one witness
• a permit (depending on location and size of event)
• and a photographer, of course!
New York City's iconic Central Park is a wonderful place to get married anytime of the year. There are many different locations in the park to have a ceremony and great options for hotels and restaurants nearby.
Whether you need a permit depends on the size of your wedding and location. There are many locations that don't require a permit (or can't be permitted). If you have less than 20 people, you can just show-up and marry about anywhere in Central Park unless another event is taking place. If you have more than 20 guests or want to reserve a specific location, I highly recommend getting a permit. Permits are $25 and can be bought via the park's website with 30 days notice. You can have acoustic but no amplified music with that permit. For more information on locations and fees, see this page.
Apply for a special event permit for a Central Park Wedding.
Some of the most popular locations require a permit to ensure your time won't conflict with another couple or park event. The Ladies Pavilion, The Cop Cot, Wagner Cove, and Shakespeare's Garden are location I'd always recommend getting one. See my ceremony locations guide for the top locations and suggestions on permits.
In terms of picking a date, the park is lovely and different in every season!
However, there is one time of the year I suggest avoiding planning a wedding if you want photos around the Bethesda Fountain and Terrace. The Friends of the Central Park Conservancy typically host an event, The Taste of Summer, in early June. (They do it every year around the first week in June on a weekday) The terrace will be unaccessible the day of, two days before and after the event. If the terrace area isn't important to you, there are plenty of other areas in the park to marry and take portraits.
The Conservatory Garden is another option for a Central Park Wedding. Ceremonies there cost $500, including the photography fee. It is a nice option for the Spring when the flowers are in bloom, but I'm not sure the cost justifies it otherwise. However, it is more private and more quiet than the other locations but it is also far from the most popular areas of the park.
For inclement weather, the Bethesda Terrace is a great location but it will be busy with tourists seeking cover. I also like the Ladies Pavilion since it is also covered and you can get a permit. Belvedere Castle (pictured) also offers a decent sized covered area that you can get a permit for.
I have to say, no matter the weather or time of year, Central Park is a beautiful location for an elopement or intimate wedding. I actually love the park in a light rain and I have a clear golf umbrella I bring to weddings where that is needed. In the winter, we can take a break at the coffee shop in the park or visit the gift shop to cool off in summer.
As for locations, there are so many to choose from! After you select your ceremony location and let me know if you have any plans after and any location preferences, I will make a timeline. We almost always visit the Bethesda Terrace Fountain area and The Mall, but others are more optional and will vary on the time of year, day, weather and how busy the park is.
By far, the best way to get around Central Park is walking. I highly recommend bringing another pair of shoes if you are wearing high heels or any shoes that will be difficult to walk in. We typically spend at least an hour walking around for most weddings. My assistant can carry a small bag for you if needed while we are shooting.
These are truly different time, but aside from basic safety (hand washing, masks, social distancing) getting married in Central Park is much like pre-pandemic times. Bathrooms are open, mobile park vendors are there, Tavern on The Green, The Boathouse and Le Pain Quotidien are open again. If you are concerned with crowds, select a morning or weekday.
If you are just looking for a simple civil ceremony or license signing, I am now a registered NYC officiant and I can add that service in addition to taking photos. I work with an assistant who can also take photos during the ceremony so nothing is missed. I suggest hiring a dedicated officiant like my friends below if you desire a custom ceremony.
I've had the pleasure of working with Suanne and her associates on numerous occasions and it is always a pleasure! Professional and thoughtful, she and her team deliver unique and meaningful ceremonies in any location. Her website is www.officiantnyc.com.
Rev. Annie Lawrence
Rev. Annie knows how to work a room and make even the most nervous couples and their families at ease! Her website is www.revannielawrence.com.
Judie goes above and beyond to make her clients day special. Even if that includes going back to their hotel to get a forgotten marriage license! Her website is www.elopenyc.com.
Mirelle make marrying outside of City Hall a breeze. You'll also want to follow her on Instagram at @honeybreakofficiants. Her website is honeybreakofficiants.com.
A More Perfect Union - Hope Mirlis
In additional to officiating wedding ceremonies of different sizes, Hope also offers pre-marital counseling and wedding yoga. Her website is: www.perfectunionny.com